Passings: Kevin Sharp, Alistair MacLeod

Passings: Kevin Sharp, Alistair MacLeod
Kevin Sharp, a country music singer who recorded multiple chart-topping songs and survived a well-publicized battle with cancer, has died in Fair Oaks, Calif. He was 43. (Associated Press)

Kevin Sharp

Country singer scored a handful of hits after overcoming cancer


Kevin Sharp, 43, a Northern California-reared country singer whose gentle tenor voice helped him score a handful of country hits in the late 1990s after winning a battle with cancer as a teenager, died Saturday at his mother's home in Fair Oaks, a Sacramento suburb.

It wasn't the cancer that took his life but complications from a digestive system illness he developed in recent years and for which he underwent surgery about five years ago, his sister, Mary Huston, said. He had spent 10 weeks in the hospital earlier this year being treated for more complications of past stomach surgeries and digestive issues, she said.

Sharp, who was born Dec. 10, 1970, in Redding, moved with his family to Idaho as a child before returning to settle in Sacramento.

He arrived on the music scene in 1996 with his single "Nobody Knows," which spent four weeks at No. 1. That helped push his debut album, "Measure of a Man," to No. 4 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. The record also yielded the Top 10 hits "She's Sure Taking It Well" and "If You Love Somebody."

The album's cover photo made no attempt to hide his baldness, a remnant of treatment he'd undergone in his late teens and early 20s after being diagnosed as a high school senior with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.

The treatment was successful, and one outcome of his experience with cancer is that the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted his request to meet Grammy-winning producer and songwriter David Foster, who helped Sharp get his career rolling.

Sharp's second album, "Love Is," was released in 1998, and he put out a third, "Make A Wish" in 2005. He devoted much of his time to working for the Make-A-Wish Foundation as a motivational speaker, and he wrote a book about his fight with cancer, "Tragedy's Gift," which was published in 2004.

Alistair MacLeod

Canadian author was best known for short story collections and novel 'No Great Mischief'

Alistair MacLeod, 77, a Canadian author who was best known for his short story collections and novel "No Great Mischief," died Sunday at a hospital in Windsor, Ontario, after suffering a stroke in January, said his former publisher, Doug Gibson.

"No Great Mischief," MacLeod's only novel, became an immediate critical success when it was published in 1999. The narrator, Alexander MacDonald, tells the story of a family's life beginning in 18th century Scotland and ending in 20th century Nova Scotia.

Born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, on July 20, 1936, MacLeod at age 10 moved with his family to a farm on Cape Breton Island in eastern Canada. It was there that the images and themes that informed his work took hold.

"When I sit down to write, the images and the details and the issues that come to my mind are those of Cape Breton," he said in May 2009 in a conversation with fellow writer Nino Ricci at the University of Toronto.

In "Alistair MacLeod, Essays on his Works," Irene Guilford notes that while intense in his devotion to his Atlantic Canada locale, the author's treatment of human questions was universal.


"Alistair MacLeod's birthplace is Canadian, his emotional heartland is Cape Breton, his heritage Scottish, but his writing is of the world," she wrote in her introduction.

MacLeod taught English and creative writing at the University of Windsor, where he also edited the University of Windsor Review. He and his wife, Anita, raised six children in Windsor. Each summer, he returned to Cape Breton and the cliff-top cabin where he did much of his writing.

MacLeod, who had a doctorate from the University of Notre Dame and also taught there, wrote his first short story, "The Boat," in 1968.

He gained recognition with the publication in 1976 of the short story collection, "The Lost Salt Gift of Blood," about life in his Cape Breton home.

His other published works include the short story collections "As Birds Bring Forth the Sun and Other Stories" (1986) and "Island" (2000).

Times staff and wire reports